Time Off For Good Behaviour

imageAfter my week of solo parenting, I was granted parole last weekend, to escape to London to see two of my favourite ladies and spend the night in a child-free environment. As usual on these nights, rather a lot of wine was consumed and the evening ended in drunken dancing round the living room. It was bliss.

I am sure anyone with young kids sympathises with my need to escape from time to time and spend a few hours being me, without the responsibilities of parenting. Last weekend was a bit unusual too. I tend to hurry home on Sunday morning to help out with the kids after a Saturday night off but, after a week of my husband being away, I didn’t feel quite so guilty about staying in town that little bit longer. I was therefore able to spend the majority of Sunday kicking around my sister’s flat, drinking tea, watching TV and nattering. A very rare treat indeed.

Child-free days – besides my two working days a week – are few and far between. When they do crop up, I tend to attempt to cram in as many grown-up activities as I can. A trip to the cinema (to see something other than a U rated film), a meal in a restaurant (without messy, fidgety children), a haircut. Once simple things, all made impossible with my three in tow. I love these rare days and I like to make the most of them by running about from one activity to another, trying to beat the clock and do as much as I can, before I have to return to being Mummy again. The downside of this is that I can feel more exhausted after a day off than I can after a normal day with the kids, as my feet rarely touch the ground. That is why Sunday was such a delight. Oh, the joy of sitting around with nothing to do!

Lounging about at home is an impossibility with three small kids and their endless demands. I have tried to spend the odd day off just hanging about at home in the past but it is such a rare thing that, when I do get some time home alone, I try to do all the chores that just aren’t possible with an 18 month old hanging off your leg. I can’t just sit and watch This Morning without the nagging voice in my head saying “Quick! Get things done while you can! You may never have this chance again”.

What I really miss though is time at home together as a couple, with nothing to do. Our attempts to have a quiet Sunday morning in always end in at least one of the kids having a meltdown or a major row developing. We then get ratty with each other and our ‘nice, quiet Sunday’ is totally ruined.

It is always less stressful to find something to do and get out of the house in the morning, if only for a couple of hours. Often, especially in Winter, there is nowhere much to go, so we are regular customers of all the coffee shops in town and the local soft play cafe. Baby T is at a terrible age for sitting down and eating as he simply won’t sit still long enough for me to down my scolding tea, but at least we are getting out. Going just about anywhere and then back home for a relatively stress-free afternoon is always preferable to staying home all morning.

I get worn out by trying to think of places to go on a cold and wet weekend. Why can’t they all just play nicely while we read the Sunday papers and drink tea? I dare say this will get easier in time, and I can already see signs in our six year old H that he is happier and quieter at home than he used to be. He plugs himself into his games console or a film, or has endless imaginary games with his superhero toys. He can happily lounge about in his PJs all morning, on a good day, while the little two run up and down yelling and causing mayhem.

In the midst of all the noise, I can’t help looking ahead to a time when Sundays can be lazy again. I have very fond memories of living first with my best mate and then, later, with my boyfriend, surrounded by the Sunday papers. One broadsheet and a million supplements, plus a rubbishy tabloid, for the daft stories and the gossip. Tea would be made in a pot, drunk by the bucketload and always finished before it went cold.

For now, I’ll just have to keep dreaming of a perfect newspaper-filled Sunday morning, eating croissants that aren’t stolen by greedy little mouths that have already had their own breakfast. It doesn’t seem like much of an ambition, I admit, and I am pretty sure I didn’t fully appreciate it when I had that sort of peace and quiet. But it is the small things we tend to miss about our uncomplicated, pre-kid lives.

For now, I will just have to embrace the weekend mayhem, eat my breakfast in secret, away from thieving kids, and microwave my tea when it has gone stone cold. Although it never tastes the same and I’ve no idea why. One day, I may even be able to buy and read a Sunday paper again. Here’s hoping.

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